Last push on big bills

Senate Democrats this week want to pass two controversial bills on the back of defense authorization legislation. But it’s not clear whether they have the votes.

There is a massive lobbying push to round up votes on an immigration reform bill called the DREAM Act and on a measure affecting the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” rule about gay people in the military.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidGOP pushes to change Senate rules for Trump Trump presses GOP to change Senate rules Only thing Defense’s UFO probe proves is power of political favors MORE (D-Nev.) surprised many on Capitol Hill by scheduling these votes so close to the election.

But before any votes on either gays in the military or immigration, the Senate must pass a motion, requiring 60 votes, to proceed to the defense authorization bill.

The DREAM Act has previously attracted GOP support, though several Republicans indicate they will reject it this week. 

The pressure from immigration-reform advocates will be on Democrats who voted against it in 2007, including Sens. Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusFarmers hit Trump on trade in new ad Feinstein’s trouble underlines Democratic Party’s shift to left 2020 Dems pose a big dilemma for Schumer MORE (Mont.), Kent Conrad (N.D.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuSenate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Project Veritas at risk of losing fundraising license in New York, AG warns You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible MORE (La.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillKoch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp GOP Senate candidate slams McCaskill over Clinton ties Dems meddle against Illinois governor ahead of GOP primary MORE (Mo.), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) Tester2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives Senate GOP: We will grow our majority in midterms Senate passes bipartisan bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (Mont.) and Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (Ark.). 

Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezPoll: Menendez has 17-point lead over GOP challenger Russian attacks on America require bipartisan response from Congress Justice Dept intends to re-try Menendez in corruption case MORE (D-N.J.) last week indicated Democrats are closing in on the necessary votes for the DREAM Act, but getting to 60 will be extremely challenging.

The vote on “Don’t ask, don’t tell” will also be close, with much of the attention now on centrist Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Health Care: House passes .3T omnibus | Bill boosts funds for NIH, opioid treatment | Senators spar over ObamaCare fix | 'Right to Try' bill heads to the Senate Winners and losers from the .3T omnibus Senators introduced revised version of election cyber bill MORE (R-Maine) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

There is other important legislation to get done this week. While some House Democrats are not thrilled with the long-stalled small-business bill that cleared the Senate last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has embraced it. That bill will clear the House and soon be signed by the president.

With the House expected to adjourn at the end of next week, lawmakers are scrambling to get bills on the congressional agenda. But many measures are slowly dying or will limp into the lame-duck session with an uncertain future.

Bills on Cuba travel, Internet gambling, stem cells, food safety and child nutrition are on life support, hoping to be revived after the elections.

Their fate is better than others, however. Climate change is dead, as is so-called card-check legislation favored by labor unions. A budget rescissions bill that President Obama called on Congress to pass in May has gone nowhere.

A U.S.-Russia arms treaty, however, has attracted momentum. The START treaty cleared a Senate panel last week, 14-4. Despite needing 67 votes to clear the full chamber, it stands a better chance than most pending bills passing in the lame-duck session.